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Date: 04-05-2024

Case Style:

United States of America v. Gerardo Vasquez Valenzuela

Case Number: 23cr00274-RBM

Judge: Rosemary Márquez

Court: The United States District Court for the Southern District of California

Plaintiff's Attorney: The United States Attorney’s Office for San Diego

Defendant's Attorney:

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San Diego, California criminal defense lawyer represented the Defendant charged with Distributed Fentanyl.

Man Who Distributed Fentanyl that Resulted in Teenager’s Death Sentenced to More than 12 Years in Prison

Jose Daniel Ramirez of San Diego was sentenced in federal court today to 151 months in prison for selling the fentanyl pills that resulted in the fatal overdose of 18-year-old Poway resident Kole William Pearson on January 3, 2023.

According to court documents, Ramirez sold “2 blues,” which were fentanyl pills disguised as oxycodone, to Pearson, who died of a fentanyl overdose after taking them. Ramirez learned of Pearson’s death and quickly changed his phone number, informed clients of his new number, and continued to sell fentanyl.

About a month later, law enforcement officers arrested Ramirez, secured a warrant and searched his residence, where they found approximately 2,600 blue pills containing fentanyl, other drugs including cocaine, plus two Glock handguns and over 250 rounds of various ammunition. One of the handguns was fully loaded with a round of ammunition in the chamber.

“The defendant knew his product had already taken one life, yet he continued to sell fentanyl pills from the same deadly batch,” said U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath. “There is nothing we can do to bring Kole Pearson back, but we join his family and friends in lifting up his memory and pledge to continue our relentless pursuit of those who value profit more than human lives.”

“HSI continues to work with our state, local and federal partners to identify, disrupt, and dismantle fentanyl trafficking networks through the HSI-led FAST task force,” said Christoper Davis, acting special agent in charge for HSI San Diego. “Members of FAST are fully committed to aggressively pursuing justice against the organizations and individuals who are responsible for dealing this deadly drug in San Diego and further into the United States.”

HSI San Diego FAST is a multiagency task force comprising state, local, and federal partners and was first established in August 2022 focusing on the disruption and dismantlement of criminal organizations that smuggle and distribute fentanyl within San Diego County. HSI’s FAST targets fentanyl smuggling and distribution networks to counter the rising overdose rate and decrease the availability and accessibility of fentanyl.

According to the government’s sentencing memo, which quoted victim impact statements, Pearson’s family described him as “a big guy with a huge personality and the biggest silly smile you’ve ever seen,” and a “very bright, thoughtful, and intelligent” guy who everyone liked. His sisters said they lost their “charming, funny, and goofy little brother.” His friends recognized his “kindness, funny antics, and genuine friendship.” Pearson worked at a Jersey Mike’s sandwich shop and planned to use his experience to attend culinary school or possibly a vocational program.

The sentencing memo noted that Pearson’s death has touched everyone in his life deeply and will be felt for a lifetime. Even Pearson’s high school teacher memorializes him by keeping an empty seat in the class.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sean Van Demark and Dylan M. Aste.


Defendant was found guilty and sentenced to 151 month in prison.

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